Ben Simmons has been showing off an improved jumper that could become the key to the 76ers' season
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
- Videos of offseason pickup games have shown Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons flashing a new and improved jump shot, though some in the NBA world are skeptical.
- Through his first two seasons on the court, Simmons' jumper has been the weakest area of his game, and it's made life difficult for the Sixers at times.
- Flush with a new max contract and a bigger role, the expectation is that Simmons' improved jumper is real and that he'll no longer hurt the Sixers' spacing.
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The NBA offseason is when players claim they've lost weight, are in the best shape of their career, or have added new dimensions to their games.
In the case of Ben Simmons, it appears he has added the one missing quality that keeps him from rankings among the NBA's best players: a jump shot.
Simmons' inability to shoot from outside of the painted area has hampered his development in the NBA. The 6-foot-10 Philadelphia 76ers point-forward is a matchup nightmare. But his lack of a jump shot and unwillingness to attempt deeper shots has thus far made it easier for opponents to defend him. Defenders sag off of him when he's on the perimeter, giving them a buffer for his drives, and they ignore him when he's off the ball. He's often forced to retreat to the paint off the ball, clogging the spacing for the 76ers.
Heading into a crucial third season, fresh off signing a five-year, $170 million extension, Simmons has been seen in videos canning mid-range and deep jumpers in summer pick-up games. The latest video, from a pick-up game with several other NBA players, showed Simmons casually hitting pull-up three-pointers, step-back jumpers, and fade-away jumpers off the dribble.
Not everyone is convinced that these videos paint an accurate picture.
Some have also noted that perhaps these selective, edited clips from meaningless games belie the truth - there is still a lot of work to be done.
A screengrab from a prior video showed a shooting form that wouldn't exactly be taught at basketball camps.
Others remain skeptical that these summertime jumpers will translate to NBA games.
Simmons' improved jumper could clear up a muddled picture in Philadelphia
The 76ers had one of the most interesting offseasons in the NBA. They traded spacing for size, letting J.J. Redick walk in free agency, signing-and-trading Jimmy Butler for versatile wing Josh Richardson, retaining Tobias Harris, and signing Al Horford.
While the Sixers look like one of the most talented teams in the shallow Eastern Conference, the roster, on paper, is a bit of a confusing one. The spacing could be even more cramped on a team whose stars don't exactly make life easier for one another.
If Simmons has legitimately developed a reliable jumper, however, it could have a huge impact on the Sixers' season.
In the playoffs, the Sixers gave Butler much of the play-making responsibility, leaving Simmons off the ball, where he is less effective. Often, the Sixers put Simmons in the "dunker" spot - along the baseline, near the basket.
When Simmons has been asked to initiate the offense in the postseason, it's been tiring work, at times. Simmons made the basket below, but it was a rigorous process.
Every Sixers fan has dreamt of the day where Simmons could punish a defender playing too far off of him with a pull-up jumper.
Simmons attempted a few more mid-range jumpers last season, but only in small doses and most of the attempts came as fade-aways out of post-ups, rather than off the dribble.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
All of those things also add pressure to Simmons' job. On offense, he figures to be functioning with less space, meaning putting his head down and getting to the basket may only be more difficult this season.
Improvement shouldn't be unexpected from a 23-year-old in his third active season (Simmons missed his rookie year with a foot injury), but meaningful progress will be judged by improvement in the weakest area of his game.
Simmons won't suddenly become Stephen Curry East, but if he adds the ability to pull up from the free-throw line or hit even a single corner three, it will mark a notable improvement over last season. Summertime hype videos of Simmons ripping the nylon only add to growing expectations.
I was worried Ben Simmons wasn't gonna make a lot of 3-pointers next season because, ya know, he's never made one in his nba careeer... buuuuut then I saw edited video of him making a couple jumpers in a pickup game, and the tweet had many, many emojis... so now I'm a believer!!!- Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) August 22, 2019
Pretty cool that we got to see all of Ben Simmons' jumpers from that pickup game. Really impressive that he made all of them too- Duncan Smith (@DuncanSmithNBA) August 22, 2019
Great to see Ben Simmons taking so many jump shots this summer. I'm excited for October to see how Ben's left-handed jumper translates during competitive games. The season can't get here soon enough. https://t.co/xPWztsaF3G- Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) August 22, 2019
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